This interesting surname, with variant spellings Skeels, Skalls, Skeeles and Skeel has three distinct possible origins. It may be a pet form or dialectal variant of the medieval personal name "Schayl" of unknown origin. The surname may also be of English locational origin from "Skell" in the "Chartulary of Fountains", deriving from the Old Norse word "skiallr", which means, resounding. Finally, the name may be an English topographical name for a dweller by the hut or shed, from the old Norse element "skali", hut, shed, found in Middle English as "Scales", a common placename element of Scandinavian England, especially the North. The surname itself first appears in London Church Registers on August 21st 1560 when John Skeles was christened at St. Augustine Watling Street. One Sislie Skeles married Richarde Merefeild on April 9th 1582 at St. Mary Aldermanry, London. William Skells married Sarah Burton on December 27th 1658 at St. Giles, Cripplegate, London. Also in London at All Hallows, London Wall, one Elizabeth Skells married Thomas Wright on May 4th 1678. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Dionise Schayl, which was dated 1273, the Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire, during the reign of King Edward 1, "the Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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